The subject of chronic pain is something I think about daily. I spend hours each month trying to think of a way to communicate to others what it's like (from a care giver's point of view). I fall short every time. During a search this afternoon, I happened across a medical website with a discussion about pain management. I was impressed with what this woman wrote. She said it so well. Especially in comparison to the majority of the doctors who came across as being more concerned with how managing patients' pain affected them.
Janet Peterson, Chronic Pain Patient- Oct 06, 2010
"I am an expert in pain management. Approx 8 years ago, I was in what I consider quite a bit of pain, for you MD's, that's about an 8. Over the last eight years, I have gone from having L-3&4 bulging, to T-12/L-1 herniated. This has progressed to the present where I have 5 herniated discs. T-8 thru T-12/L1 to be exact. I gauge a 10 on the pain scale as having a limb torn off, or an injury that a combat soldier would be subject to. I spent 39 hrs in labor that resulted in a c-section. So, the highest my back pain has gone, in "my" scale was an 8. A 20 yr old that's never had child, or been injured in any way is going to gauge theirs very differently. I "live" at about a 6 on the pain scale. That is with fentanyl patches and lortab for break through pain. I have been at the max dose of neurontin for the last 4-5 years. The MRI results for each time my pain moved or increased was my ONLY "proof" that there really was something wrong, as back pain is so easy to fake evidently.
I think the training in pain management should only be done by patients that have chronic pain, and it should be required at all levels of a training, including required CME. Yes, there is pain science, but you're speaking of "management" of something that is still light years away from being totally understood in the scientific community. There is a HUGE resource out there in this subject that is rarely tapped, and that is the patient. Us. All of us, not just one or two, here and there. No, we don't have an alphabet behind our names, but we are still the experts. We may have a myriad of ways of that management, but that's where the real answers are to this serious and life changing condition.
Do I still smile at people if my pain hikes to an 8, yes I do. After years of living with pain, you better be able to still smile, or you're in real trouble. There will always be addicts. There are measures a doctor can take to protect themselves in this area, very good measures. Yet it is my understanding of the laws put in place, that those addicts are not supposed to affect my being able to receive the appropriate and needed treatment. However, from all that I read on this subject that seems to be less and less the case as the "experts" try to fix addiction, by placing more and more regulations on the chronic pain patient. These are two separate conditions, stop trying to deal with one by how you treat the other."